Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

A to Z Challenge, 2014: D is for Deep-fried Hyphens

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

Oh Heck! Another Quirky Writing Error

Hyphens can be troublesome little pipsqueaks. You see them used incorrectly just about as often as you see them used correctly.

Today I went down to the 42nd Annual Flowertown Festival in Summerville, South Carolina, a street fair that covered many blocks on Main Street and much of downtown Azalea Park. The gorgeous azaleas, already in full bloom, filled the park with pinks, lavenders, and whites. Showy dogwoods displayed their white flowers. Beautiful flowers and beautiful weather. Perfect for the festival.

summerille festStreet vendors lined the streets and park pathways: arts and crafts, ornamental garden décor and wooden outdoor furniture, flowers and veggies, jellies and sauces, doggie leashes and outfits, gourmet foods and hand-made soaps, and much more. Food vendors claimed their share of the festival real estate, too.

And among the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken-on-a-stick food vendors, I found the following items for sale: deep fried Oreos, deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Snickers, deep fried peaches, and deep fried apple fries (all minus a required hyphen).


Being a picky editor, I cringed about the spelling/usage, but I still ate a deep-fried Oreo, snickering all the while about the lack of hyphen.

Here’s the rule.

In a multi-word adjective (phrasal adjectives), when each word by itself does not describe the noun, you must use a hyphen.

These high-calorie yummies are neither “deep Oreos” nor “fried Oreos,” but “deep-fried Oreos” (Oreo cookies that have been submersed in hot oil and fried). Therefore the multi-word adjective should have a hyphen: you need both deep and fried together to describe this yucky incredible treat.

Obviously, rules for hyphens do not apply at street festivals, county fairs, zoos, and other food-filled outdoor activities!

Here’s the corrected, but definitely unhealthy menu:

deep-fried Oreos
deep-fried Twinkies
deep-fried Snickers
deep-fried peaches
deep-fried apple fries..

Here’s to your health!

Your turn:  What quirky errors do you find in writing? Which ones annoy you the most?
Janice Hall Heck is a retired educator and now nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ.



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7 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge, 2014: D is for Deep-fried Hyphens

  1. That is a new learning for me today. I have never bothered to learn the rules behind using hyphens, I use them more by gut 🙂 I get a little ticked off when commas are not used appropriately. It can change the meaning of what one wants to convey! Good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

    • Yes, hyphens can be tricky. I plan to do a few more posts on hyphens in the near future. Commas are another bugbear! I’ll do a few posts on them, too. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. Hi Janice, I’m a fellow cringer when I spot spelling or grammatical errors – and I find it hard to read past such things without them jumping out of the page to stab me in the eye. Looking forward to more posts of this kind 🙂

    • Thanks, Amos. Nice to meet you. I do plan on write about more quirky writing errors. Thanks for the visit to my blog.

      • *cough* … on writ…ing *cough* Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉
        I’ve started following you (not stalking!), so I’ll catch the new posts, plus I might have to read through some older ones when I get a bit of a breather.

  3. Definitely unhealthy..but good to indulge in them once in a while! 🙂

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